This is a poem I’ve written for my sister and I. A reminder of all that we are and yet to become.
This is a poem I’ve written for my sister and I. A reminder of all that we are and yet to become.
Like many creative people my house can get pretty messy when I am busy making or doing a project. The key to this is to return to some order again once I am done. Admittedly sometimes this can take longer than I planned.
Yesterday I took over the kitchen as is often the case this time of year and made Winter Syrup. This will form the basis for some of my handmade Christmas gifts for friends and family.
As you will see in almost every hedgerow that you pass this time of the year in the Uk there is a plentiful supply of Rosehips just waiting to be utilised. After the first frost has softened them is the best time to use them. I love foraging for fruit and berries.
For the past three years I have made a Winter Syrup of varying ingredients. It is usually because I haven’t kept the recipe in one place and I strive to improve it each year. All have been based on a Rosehip recipe and are my first resort when sore throats hit since these wonderful fruits are packed with Vitamin C.
The first I made was the best since it was Elderberry and Rosehip and was what my brother who was a chef, described as “a little bottle of Christmas”. It was lovely with cake, ice cream and in sparkling cocktails. I resolve to make this version next year and not miss out on elderberries as I did this year I was just in the wrong place when the fruit was available. But for now, here’s the recipe for this year’s if you want to make some of your own.
1kg of Ripe Rosehips with stalks and ends removed.
2 litres water
1 Lemon with peel on, halved.
2 inches of Fresh Ginger root, sliced.
1 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice.
2 tsp Ground Turmeric.
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon.
1 tsp Cloves.
Mix all ingredients in a large pan, with 1 litre water lightly mash the Rosehips to break up the fruit and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Use a Muslin cloth in a colander and a bowl to separate the fruit from the liquid, leave to stand to drain as much liquid as possible out. Because Rosehips have fine hairs within them which can irritate the throat you have to separate the fruit from the liquid.
Return the liquid to a clean pan and add another 1 Ltr water and 1kg Sugar. I used both Demerara and white sugar since it was what I had to hand. Add 2 tbsp honey.
Bring the liquid to boil until all sugar has melted then simmer until it has reduced to half its volume.
Bottle it into sterilised glass bottles. I got 8 small bottles from this recipe.
It makes a wonderful sore throat remedy. You will notice that there is a slight sediment in the bottles, this is due to the use of dried spices. Shake before use and once opened store in the refrigerator.
This is a place that really is my second home, the place I go to whenever I can. My sanctuary from all that has gone wrong in my life. Where I am surrounded by Nature and Beauty and I am reminded that there is more to life than whatever has bothered me before.
I can walk for miles, across those hills. Surrounded by greenery, trees, mountains and the sea. The sunsets lift me, their warmth coursing through my veins and bathing everything in a beautiful glow. When I am fortunate to rise with the sun, then life is truly worth living and the day seems so much better. At night, when a magnitude of stars light up the sky, and everywhere else is black, what will catch me out every time is when the blackness suddenly turns from enveloping you to a blue blanket which surrounds you and the light creeps around the hillside fooling you and the birds again into thinking that the morning has broken. When it rains, boy does it rain and the rain will come down sideways and soak you to your core and feels as though it could cleanse your soul.
It is one of my favourite places on earth.
I have been working on my knowledge of Wild food and foraging over the past year or so. I began to do this partly out of curiosity and also out of necessity. I have been looking for home remedies which I am able to make on a limited budget, in my own small kitchen, from things which are growing outside my front door or close by. This is to try and help my own health along, but also because I am also trying to live more sustainably, by using the things that I have already and recycling. It has also encouraged my family to save jars for me to use, rather than recycling them via roadside collections. This enables to me to stretch both the imagination and my creativity at the same time and even when I have been out of the workplace I have turned my hand to doing something useful.
With that in mind, I stumbled upon a recipe to use up the swathe of dandelions in my garden and set about making Vegan Honey. I am not a vegan, but I do have food allergies and intolerances and try to eat healthily. Having found the delights of the humble dandelion last year, I decided to delve further into its uses both culinary and medicinal.
This is a Bee Free Sweet Preserve, which resembles honey and can be used in exactly the same ways.
So on a sunny afternoon, the day before the lawn was due to be cut I thought I would save the dandelions from the garden, I picked about half a colander of them. Since there have been blooms for a month now and the spring flowers are also out, I have no qualms about using them. As always, I leave some for the bees since it is one of their first foods of the year. There are plenty in the garden but they would be going to waste on this particular day.
I have also noticed the thing about Dandelions is that once you take the flowers, they produce so many more blooms the next day they are abundant.
Fortuitously I found a recipe for Dandelion Honey, which got me thinking. I do like to adapt recipes though it helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t in them. It’s all trial and error, but sometimes it goes well. So as I did not have all the ingredients to hand, I searched online for other recipes that I might adapt. I also searched the freezer, where I had stored some apples.
Thankfully my friends and family are getting used to my concoctions these days and either wrinkle their noses up when I describe things, or alternatively agree to give them a go. Some have even come back for more, asking me to make them again. I must be doing something right.
If you would like to make your own “Honey” You will need time on your hands and patience. It is time consuming, but the taste is very pleasing and you will have your own little taste of sunshine for your morning breakfast, or afternoon tea if you prefer.
Here’s the equipment you’ll need:
A Large Pan, Knife, Wooden Spoon, Muslin Cloth to strain, Jug and Scales to measure, Sterilised Jars. I used 9 small jars.
Dandelions – ½ Colander collected is equal to around 4 cups petals once split.
2 Cooking Apples
Water 2.5 Pints or 5 Cups.
Sugar Approximately 1.2Kg
Collect Dandelions on a Sunny Day from a place which is free from insecticide.
Rinse them in cold water, this gives any bugs a chance to escape.
Water the plants with the excess water, thus releasing the bugs to freedom again.
Remove all the petals and separate them from all the green stems and flower base. You need to keep the petals for your honey. Warning – This is very fiddly and time consuming, you may actually lose the will to live!
Once you have petals, I ended up with about 4 cups of them.
Wash and Peel the Apples and slice them.
Wash and Cut the lemon into quarters.
Add 2.5 pints or 5 cups of water,
Bring to the boil and then continue to fast boil for 30 minutes.
Allow to steep overnight in the pan. If you do not want a really lemony taste, then at this point I would remove the lemon pieces and crush to retain the juice in the mix since it helps the setting process. But since you are adding sugar, the end result is sweet.
The next day, measure the liquid and weigh it, heat in a pan adding the same weight in sugar.
I ended up with around 2 pints of juice at this point which weighed just about 1150kgs.
Boil until it reaches setting point, to test this take a spoonful, pour it onto a plate, leave it a few minutes and if it has a crinkle to it, or does not run, then pour into sterilised jars and seal.
It can take up to 2 days for the mixture to set apparently, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed at this point. But since I like Runny honey anyway, I’m generally pleased with the result and it has a pleasing Honey colour to it. Not real honey, but with all the goodness that Dandelions and Lemons can provide, I bet it will still soothe a sore throat and who would know?
Well, There’s a promise!
I was struck by the humour I found on my travels to Barcelona wandering about, it surprised me at almost every corner. I wonder if the coffee really was that good, unfortunately it was a passing moment and I didn’t get the opportunity to try it. But the blogger in me is always on the look out for a good coffee house. This one is situated opposite the very beautiful Palau de la Música Catalana and I made a mental note to revisit it one day.
I took this photograph primarily for my brother since he loves a Vespa.
I must admit that it seemed somehow strange that it adorned the shop window still in the first week of January. Secretly I was quite pleased that someone else still keeps their Christmas Decorations past new year, but I did not anticipate this in a shop and somehow expected the New Year Sale to have taken over.
On a recent trip to Barcelona, other than being blown away by architectural details, which is an absolute weakness of mine. Although I found it slightly disappointing that some had been covered in graffiti, I have resigned myself to the fact that graffiti is an art form of it’s own too and I have to appreciate it for that. I couldn’t help but notice that the “street art” was pretty good too. Always something to see at every corner, you just have to look.